Gregory Logistics Brings Attention to Veterans Foundation
POPLAR BLUFF – There are many ways Americans pay respects to their fallen and wounded veterans: From parades which celebrate their selfless service to speeches which draw attention to their universal heroism.
Many veterans, although injured, aren’t willing to sit by and watch parades nor attend rallies in their honor. Despite the odds against them, many vets rise above their disabilities to continue serving.
One who typifies that spirit is Farmington resident and former U.S. Navy SEAL Jared Ogden. Watching “a friend get blown up” during a combat operation in Afghanistan might have been a turning point for the 34-year-old vet.
“I spent a lot of time with him at Walter Reed,” the bearded, soft spoken Ogden told SEMO TIMES Monday. “He lost his legs above the knees. He was going through vocational and occupational training and hundreds of hours of physical therapy,” the former SEAL added.
“We were tossing the medicine ball back and forth when I thought, ‘If I was Dan, what would I do with the rest of my life?’ He wanted to fly. But no program existed to train pilots without legs. He wanted to fly drones, Predators. I thought, ‘why not?'”
So Ogden applied his leadership skills and founded the Phoenix Patriot Foundation in San Diego, Calif., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose aim is to challenge injured veterans into finding their way back to service.
“We are dedicated to creating specific opportunities for combat-wounded, post 9/11 veterans to return to service,” he clarified. “We define service as positively contributing to society.”
These opportunities are not handouts. They are not even hand-ups, one medically-retired SEAL Team member said Monday. Ogden explained the foundation is challenge-oriented.
“It’s all about pushing it,” said Bo Reichenbach from his Billings, Montana, home. “This organization, for me, is like a brotherhood.
“They push us to keep pushing,” the 26-year-old husband and father continued. “Just because I have no legs, well, there’s nothing I can’t do.”
The medically-retired SEAL found himself at Walter Reed Hospital on July 22, 2012, after he stepped on an improvised explosive device July 17, he told SEMO TIMES.
“I was there about two years before I came back home,” he said. “That’s when I linked up with Jared and his foundation in D.C.
“I participated in the Never Quit Challenge,” he added. “It was a jet-ski race from Key West, Florida, to New York City. We got there on 9/11. It was a real accomplishment.”
Reichenbach returned to Montana invigorated and ready to begin building a home for his family with the help of his father, who owns a construction company.
Reichenbach said, “Jared immediately jumped in and demanded to help.”
According to Reichenback, “He started raising money through challenge events to help us build our home. We are in the process of framing the house now.”
Aiding in the construction of the Reichenbach family’s home is the largest challenge faced by the foundation since its inception nearly four years ago, Ogden said. But not the largest for Bo Reichenbach, Bo said.
“My goal is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next year,” he said. “I intend to keep pushing to the next level.”
Ogden’s giving heart and gentle attitude hides a warrior’s spirit and combatant’s resolve. Those qualities touched a Poplar Bluff businessman, Laramy Gregory of Gregory Logistics.
While hanging out with Ogden near Farmington at a tactical training facility, a large light went on in Gregory’s head.
“We need to spread the word about Jared and his organization,” Gregory said. “What better way than to put a rolling sign on the road?”
Gregory Logistics has about 70 semi-trucks and 200 trailers on the road coast-to-coast, Gregory said.
Gregory enlisted the help of Poplar Bluff’s Stinson Press. Together, a brainstorm of imagination turned into the reality of a 2015 Freightliner wrapped in a unique camouflage print – a Highlander pattern from Kryptek Outdoor Group – that prominently sports the Phoenix Patriot Foundation logo.
Two Stinson techs worked 40 man-hours each applying the vinyl wrap to the enormous rig.
Gregory and Ogden were on hand Monday at the Gregory Logistics shop to review the progress.
“Hey, 100,000 to 200,000 people will see this daily,” Gregory beamed. “It’s a rolling billboard and we could not be happier to do it. We hope it gets lots of attention.”
The rig will be unveiled on Saturday at the Iron Mountain Festival in Poplar Bluff and hit the road immediately afterwards.
“We hope it inspires people to get involved with veterans and with the Phoenix Patriot Foundation,” Gregory said.